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sector_ico_Forestry_trans Forestry

Protecting Canada’s Forests against Invasive Alien Species by Next Generation Biosurveillance

  • Project Leaders: Richard Hamelin, Amro Mahran, Cameron Duff, Linda DeVerno, Roger Levesque
  • Institutions: University of British Columbia (UBC)
  • Budget: $2430000
  • Program/Competition: Genomic Applications Partnership Program (GAPP)
  • Genome Centre(s): Genome Canada
  • Fiscal Year: 2014
  • Status: Closed

In 2016, the forest industry contributed over $23 billion to Canada’s nominal Gross Domestic Product.  As one of the most important manufacturing sectors, forestry made up 7% of Canada’s exports reaching $34.4 billion and supporting over 210 thousand jobs from coast to coast (NRCan, 2018). 

Expansion of international trade with partners from around the world makes Canada increasingly vulnerable to insects and pathogens from outside our boarders. These invasive alien species (IAS) threaten our forests and our urban trees. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) is the regulatory body that protects Canada’s forests and agricultural resources by intercepting alien forest pests and intervening before they establish themselves.  This project developed, validated and deployed genome-based biosurveillance tools to prevent and mitigate two important forest IAS threats – Asian Gypsy moth and Sudden Oak Death:

  1. Multiplex DNA assay against Phytophthora ramorum (PR, the fungus-like pathogen of Sudden Oak Death) to determine genus, species and lineages.
  2. Ready-to-use, lyophilized DNA detection kit for PR
  3. A suite of DNA assays for the rapid identification of Asian gypsy moth (AGM) adults and eggs
  4. Multi-species DNA assay for the identification of AGM and related species
  5. Portable, battery operated device and protocols for field testing of AGM

The assays and kits were tested and validated in different project partner laboratories and the technology transferred to CFIA as well as the US Department of Agriculture for implementation.

By preventing the introduction and establishment of these pests in the first place, the costs of dealing with them will be avoided, while Canada’s pest-free status, crucial to maintaining export markets, will be maintained. Adoption of these tools is forecasted to save an estimated $375-$625 million over three-to-five years.